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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MANTRA GROUP WARNS CONSUMERS AGAINST BOOKING HOLIDAYS THROUGH UNLICENSED OPERATORS

One of Australia’s leading accommodation providers Mantra Group has warned consumers they risked losing their hard-earned money and holiday experiences by booking accommodation online through unlicensed operators.

Mantra Group operates as an onsite accommodation manager and letting agent. The Group manages a portfolio of more than 130 properties and also has a number of registered trademarks protecting its brands including Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree.

Mantra Group General Manager of Distribution Luke Jamieson urged consumers to only book holidays through licensed operators such as real estate or travel agencies as the Group had received numerous complaints from holidaymakers who thought that they had booked Mantra accommodation, only to discover on arrival that the resort held no booking for them.

“Guests who have booked through unlicensed operators have reported receiving their keys to privately-owned apartments in the resort car parks or gardens,” he said.

“Unlicensed companies have gone to extraordinary lengths such as using multiple websites under the Mantra building name and logo in an effort to deceive consumers.”

Mr Jamieson said consumers who had booked accommodation through unlicensed operators, thinking they were dealing direct with Mantra properties, were often disappointed because they ended up with a substandard holiday experience.

“Consumers don’t get to check in with reception or receive any resort services provided by reception and often encounter inferior furnishings and lower levels of cleanliness. If something goes wrong, such as lost keys or a broken television, reception is unable to help them as they normally would, meaning guests are left out in the cold with no one to help them,” he said.

Mantra took legal action against a number of unlicensed operators earlier this year leading to a historic Federal Court judgment in March when an operator of offsite websites was found to have infringed Mantra’s trademarks. Mantra instituted proceedings against Stephen Andrew Grant and Tailly Pty Ltd (Tailly) alleging they had set up misleading websites and Google advertisements to source bookings for their own accommodation businesses using Mantra’s trademarks to confuse consumers into thinking they were booking with Mantra.

Justice Reeves of the Federal Court of Australia ordered the respondents to transfer registration of a number of domain names to Mantra. A court injunction stopped Tailly and Mr Grant from using Mantra trademarks and they were ordered to pay Mantra any profits made from bookings sourced via the infringing websites.

Tailly has since been placed into voluntary liquidation, leaving more than 260 consumers out of pocket to the tune of approximately $300,000 due to lost booking deposits, highlighting the danger of using unlicensed operators.

“Consumers using faceless website operators have no way of knowing the financial circumstances or capabilities of the company and are putting their hard-earned money and holiday experiences at risk by using them,” he said.

Mantra is continuing with its battle to protect consumers and its intellectual property by launching further legal action against other operators on the Gold Coast and in Far North Queensland. Some of these operators have already transferred their offending websites to Mantra.

“If you have any concerns over the legitimacy of the booking, you should contact the property directly to confirm details,” Mr Jamieson.

1 comment:

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